Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sampradaya and dimensions of Consciousness

In my blog “Dimensions of Consciousness” I had tried to relate the views of Burt Harding and Deepak Chopra, modern advaita philosophers of west, who had defined the dimensions of Consciousness in terms of growth in awareness of one’s true Self, to different stages of purification of mind in the path of discovery of one’s real Self.  I had received comments from well-meaning friends that talking of dimensions in the case of Consciousness is not sampradaya.  Since somebody else may be feeling that way without recording, I thought, I may record my views as a matter of clarification. 

Yes, it is not strictly sampradaya but it is not totally new as well.  We can find instances in Sruthi and Smrithi where waking consciousness, dream consciousness and deep sleep consciousness are defined separately and given particular names.  In Mandukya Upanishad, Athma which is the pure Consciousness is said to have four padas.  First pada is the consciousness associated with the waking state called Viswa, the second pada is consciousness associated with dream state which is called Taijasa, and the third pada is the consciousness associated with deep sleep state which is called Prajna.  In Vedanta Sara , Sri Sadananda Yogindra Saraswathi terms Viswa as Consciousness associated with gross body (Sthula sareera), Taijasa as consciousness associated with subtle body(Sukshma sareera) and Prajna as consciousness associated with causal body(Karana sareera).  What can be associated with one of the three states(avasthas) or one of the three bodies(sareeras)  can only be the individual Consciousness, the Consciousness that manifests in individual mind and makes it sentient.

The fourth pada is the pure Consciousness which is present as unassociated witness in all the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep and is called the Fourth in Mandukya Upanishad and as Turiyam in Vedanta Sara and in Karika.  Turiyam is also not associated with the three bodies being asanga, as per Vedanta Sara.  Turiyam is nothing but Brahman, the cosmic Supreme. One who realizes Turiyam as one’s real Self, and stays in that state of realisation all the time, even while interacting with the external world is aware of the unity of all living beings as Turiyam and in Turiyam, and has attained the highest  state  of realisation. This highest state of realisation was called as the state of Unity Consciousness by Deepak Chopra and this is the seventh and the highest dimension.  For that person who has evolved to the seventh dimension, there is only life of being and not of becoming.  In that state of realisation, one lives and interacts with the external world, with the inner realisation that he is not in the body but the body is in him.

As for the first three dimensions and the final seventh dimension only the name differs and not description of the state as compared to sampradaya.  Further the path to Self Realisation is marked by the following stages sadhana-wise in scriptures:  
  1.  achieving purification of mind (chitta suddhi) through karma yoga
  2. achieving one pointedness of thoughts ( chitta ekagratha) through upasana yoga
  3. getting doubt-free Self-knowledge (Athma jnanam)  through sravanam and mananam

These sadhana-wise stages can be also described as dimension 4,5 &6 of Consciousness.  In my blog I have chosen to define knowledge-wise stages as dimensions as they correspond well with the names used by Deepak Chopra for the different dimensions.   So here only the idiom is different, but import is the same.  Whether it is in defining dimensions of conscience or in describing human being as a mix of mortal human and immortal, infinite Being, substance is not sacrificed , only presentation differs.